Ana Turns  


The new novel by the acclaimed author of Louisa Meets Bear and The Peacock Feast
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A kaleidoscopic story, unspooling over the twenty-four hours of a very contemporary woman’s sixtieth birthday.

Nine years have passed since Ana Koehl had sex with her pot-addicted anesthesiologist husband, seven since she began an affair with a gonzo journalist. She’s gratified by her work as a book doula, but burdened by her belief that she need always be on call. Her elderly mother’s birthday greeting is an inflation-adjusted calculation of the cost of raising Ana in a mice-infested house, her brother has hijacked the will of their recently deceased starchitect father, her adult child is changing rapidly before her eyes, and her best friend advocates for “the truth in lies.” Gazing out at the dark moat of Central Park from behind her desk, Ana sees that she can no longer postpone making peace with her past or confronting her present.

Narrated by Ana and the key figures in her life–her husband, her brother, her lover’s wife, to name a few–Ana Turns spirals through issues from capital punishment to the dynamiting of the Bamiyan Buddhas, culminating in a watershed dinner party, with Ana’s family members’ true colors on full display. By day’s end, the bounds of her own collaboration and forgiveness illuminated, Ana turns towards a vision of what she wants next in this blink of a life.

Praise & Reviews

“Brilliantly assembles a literary quilt wherein each of the composite stories, like quilt ‘patches,’ may stand alone in their artistry, with the stunning whole more than the sum of its parts….Gornick, in her wise and masterful prose, has shown us that it is family, the menage it always is, that forms the world.”
Lloyd Sederer, New York Journal of Books

“Gornick gives us 24 hours with a dazzling woman and her complicated life on the day she turns 60. All the key players — her pot-addicted doctor husband, her greedy brother, her nasty mother, her longtime lover and his wife…— put in bravura appearances.”
Marion Winik, Newsday 

“With each glorious, hilarious page I found myself turning with Ana, one of the most original creations I’ve seen in a while and, to steal from Lermontov, truly A Heroine of Our Time.”
Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Our Country Friends

“The takeaway in this briskly engaging novel is that it’s important to focus on what really matters, and it’s never too late to make changes.”
—Heller McAlpin, NPR

“An immersive story of a Manhattan editor on her 60th birthday…. Crisp and clever writing abounds, and Ana’s response during the climactic dinner scene to her mother’s cruelty is particularly piercing. Gornick strikes all the right notes in this complex and moving character study.”
Publishers Weekly

“An intel­li­gent, humor­ous, and char­ac­ter-dri­ven book that is full of com­pli­cat­ed fam­i­ly dynam­ics, roman­tic and pro­fes­sion­al pur­suits, and friend­ships….Extreme­ly well suit­ed for rau­cous book club dis­cus­sions.”
Deborah Miller, The Jewish Book Council

“This moving portrait of a woman assessing the friendships, romances, and family relationships that have shaped her sixty years contains a wealth of keen insight and just the right touch of delightful humor.”
Sigrid Nunez, National Book Award winner and author of author of What Are You Going Through

“Written in the vein of Mrs. Dalloway….Ana is a richly developed main character surrounded by an intriguing supporting cast…in this thoughtful meditation on how time affects the bonds of family, friendship, and romance. Engaging and introspective.”
Kirkus Reviews

“I fell in love with Ana, a modern-day Mrs. Dalloway crisscrossing New York City to discover the unexpected truths about her life, lovers and impossible family. An exquisitely written love letter to what it means to be a grown-up woman.”
Helen Simonson, International bestselling author of The Summer Before the War

“Lisa Gornick’s Ana Turns is a beautifully written and propulsive novel of desire and longing, regret and forgiveness. Ana is my favorite kind of character–deeply perceptive, surprisingly funny, and smart as hell. I loved this novel.”
Angie Kim, New York Times bestselling author of Happiness Falls

“It’s a great feat to capture a whole life through the lens of a single day. Lisa Gornick’s Ana Turns does this beautifully in a series of vivid encounters with both the present and the past on the momentous occasion of her sixtieth birthday. It’s exciting to watch Ana risk revealing her true feelings and to ultimately discover what she wants and deserves. But this isn’t only an internal story. The novel sweeps through history and travels all over the world to show the influences Ana is bringing with her into each moment, alone or with others. Ana Turns is a powerful story of a woman coming into her own.”
Alice Elliott Dark, Bestselling author of Fellowship Point

“Over the course of one long, intense, illuminating day, Ana Koehl takes stock of herself, the people she loves, and the ever-shifting world around her. This beautifully written novel is an astute and perceptive portrait of a woman hovering on the brink of change.”
Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of The Exiles

“Ana Turns is an intelligent and compassionate book, full of so many contemporary issues and providing such interesting and complicated things to consider. It gives respect and attention to place–to New York–and gives us a brave and determined protagonist, one who faces a complicated life with courage and love.” 
—Roxana Robinson, author of

“Lisa Gornick no longer practices as a therapist, but her empathy and keen insight are on glorious display in ANA TURNS. Forget the cliched, peppy ‘women of a certain age’ you see in movies: Ana is fully-rendered in all of her complexities, as are all the people in her life. A rich, dense, original exploration of marriage, family, and what it means to age gracefully.”
Lisa Zeidner, author of Love Bomb


On the real persons and events in the novel: All information regarding Kayla Greenwood and Kenneth Williams comes from news accounts during the time described. The excerpt from the interview with Mullah Mohammed Omar was published by on April 12, 2004.